Ethical Violations and Challenges


Ethics codes are adopted by various organizations to help members in acknowledging the difference between right and wrong and in applying that acknowledgment to their normal work and decisions. The code of ethics provides the principles and expectations that govern the behavior or conduct of organizations and their members (Barsh & Lisewski, 2008; Kenscki, 2009).

Ethical Violation

Ethical violations are often considered serious offenses happening within organizations (Watanabe, 2010). Every organization has specific codes of ethics that guide the behaviors of its members (McIntyre, 2011). Recently, the Missouri Ethics Commission blamed the St. Louis County Library and its director for violating election law by failing to identify the library in the promotional materials designed for purposes of tax increment that voters had passed (Hibbard, 2013). The complaint was filed with the commission and claimed that the district had spent significantly large sums of money for brochures and other promotional materials designed to encourage support for the increment of tax levy by six cents (Hibbard, 2013). The ethics commission that handled the case argued that the district and the library director violated the state law because the printed materials that were published and circulated by the district authority did not entail the disclosure of full payments (Hibbard, 2013). However, the director of the library, in his defense, contended that he and his staff members did not intentionally contravene the ethics code (Hibbard, 2013).

The ethical violation had some consequences on both the library as an organization and its director. For the director, the ethics violation, though it might not have been intentional, had a substantial negative effect on his integrity as a leader (Burke, 2010). Besides, the ethics violation also showed his reputation in a bad light. Which could affect the way other leaders related to him (Daft, 2008). In this case, he might have been perceived as somebody who was not honest while providing the relevant information required for the implementation of the tax increment policy.

With respect to the organization, the ethical violation might have had some effects on how it related to other organizations. It is important to note that the St. Louis County Library is a public library that should always be accountable to the public. Therefore, by being accused of an ethics violation, the library as an organization appeared as not supportive of the initiatives that benefit the public. Besides, the library was penalized in the amount of $100 for violating the ethics code. This had some financial impact on its operations, though to a limited extent (Hibbard, 2013).

Nonetheless, the severity of the consequences of the ethics violation was mitigated by the accountability of the director of the library. To this effect, the director explained that neither he nor any official of the library was aware that the missing information was essentially required as a part of the promotional materials. (Hibbard, 2013). The importance of this is that it helped the public and the stakeholders understand that the omission was not intentional (Wulf, 2011; Fisher, 2003).

The Ethical Guideline Consulted

The ethical guideline I consulted is the American Library Association (ALA), which is a voluntary organization (Wegner, 2013). The association supports the establishment of ethics codes. However, it does not enforce the Code of Ethics on various grounds. First, the association has two possible actions against those who violate the codes: either suspend or expel members and reprimand or condemn the members who commit ethics violations (Wegner, 2013).

Four Guidelines as Parts of Organizational Change

Ethical practice is very important during an organizational change process (Freemam, 2006; Eddy, 2006). In this case, there are four guidelines that I think are the most relevant and should be in place as components of organizational change. The first one is a responsibility to self. The personnel involved in an organizational change should act with integrity by being authentic and true to themselves (Burrow, 2012). This helps the person to realize their personal needs during the change process. Besides, being personally responsible enables the personnel to find the most appropriate solutions in cases of conflicts of interest during a change process (Burrow, 2012).

The second one is that of responsibility for professional development and competence. This guideline requires that personnel involved in a change process should accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions during the change processes (Burrow, 2012); this mostly applies to organizational change consultants and experts (Burrow, 2012). The third ethical guide is the responsibility to clients. During a change process, it is important that clients’ interests are sufficiently considered (Burrow, 2012). Hence, the change process should be based on the long-term well-being interests and development of an organization’s client system and every other stakeholder (Burrow, 2012). It is also important that change agents are honest to clients when effecting organizational changes; this can be ensured through being responsible and accountable to clients in terms of what the clients should know about the change (Burrow, 2012).

The last ethical guide is trust. During an organizational change process, trust between the management and employees is very fundamental to the success of the change. Without trust, all stakeholders may not share the vision and the need for any change; this may result in the failure of a change process (Burrow, 2012).

Two Ethical Guidelines I Personally Embody

One of the two ethical guidelines I personally embody is that of professional integrity. This guideline includes a broad variety of responsibilities that I personally embody: honesty in the professional undertaking, being respectful to other professionals, and working together with junior employees. Furthermore, I do not like using the resources of my organization for my personal benefit. The other ethical guideline I embody is that of accepting personal responsibility. In this regard, I am often ready to immediately take responsibility for every consequence of my actions during work (Iseda, 2008).

Most Challenging Ethical Guidelines

One of the ethical guidelines that might be the most challenging for me to adhere to as an organizational change leader is that of not harming others when executing a change plan (Buchanan & Badham, 2008). Even though this is crucial in ensuring that all stakeholders are involved, it may be difficult to adhere to the guideline due to one specific reason; there are some changes that definitely result in harming others. For example, an organizational change may mean laying-off workers, a move that definitely harms the affected workers (Williams, 2008). Therefore, this guide may not be one of the most appropriate ethics code during an organizational change process.

The other ethical guideline that might be the most challenging for me is that of avoiding conflicts of interest while leading an organizational change process. I always acknowledge that conflicts of interest may adversely affect the organizational change process. However, as an individual with personal needs, it may not be easy to avoid it, especially when my well-being is not taken into account to ensure that I do not have personal problems that may negatively impact my role in the change process (Becker, 20005).


The ethics code is meant to guide the behaviors of individuals within an organization. There are ethical guidelines that best suit an organizational change process and those that may be difficult to adhere to, especially as a leader of an organization’s change.


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Williams, C. (2008). Management with Infotrac. London, UK: Cengage Learning.

Wulf, K. (2011). Ethics and Compliance Programs in Multinational Organizations. New York: Springer.

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